Home > Human metabolism of four synthetic benzimidazole opioids: isotonitazene, metonitazene, etodesnitazene, and metodesnitazene.

Taoussi, Omayema and Berardinelli, Diletta and Zaami, Simona and Tavoletta, Francesco and Basile, Giuseppe and Kronstrand, Robert and Auwärter, Volker and Busardò, Francesco P and Carlier, Jeremy (2024) Human metabolism of four synthetic benzimidazole opioids: isotonitazene, metonitazene, etodesnitazene, and metodesnitazene. Archives of Toxicology, Early online, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00204-024-03735-0.

External website: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00204-0...

Following isotonitazene scheduling in 2019, the availability of alternative 2-benzylbenzimidazole opioids (nitazenes) on the global drug market increased, resulting in many fatalities worldwide. Nitazenes are potent µ-opioid receptor agonists with strong narcotic/analgesic effects, and their concentrations in biological matrices are low, making the detection of metabolite biomarkers of consumption crucial to document use in clinical and forensic settings. However, there is little to no data on the metabolism of the most recently available nitazenes, especially desnitro-analogues.

The aim of the research was to assess isotonitazene, metonitazene, etodesnitazene, and metodesnitazene human metabolism and identify specific metabolite biomarkers of consumption. The four analogues were incubated with 10-donor-pooled human hepatocytes, and the incubates were analyzed by liquid chromatography-high-resolution tandem mass spectrometry and data mining with Compound Discoverer (Thermo Scientific); the analysis was supported by in silico metabolite predictions with GLORYx open-access software. Metabolites were identified in postmortem blood and/or urine samples from two metonitazene-positive and three etodesnitazene-positive cases following the same workflow, with and without glucuronide hydrolysis in urine, to confirm in vitro results. Twelve, nine, twenty-two, and ten metabolites were identified for isotonitazene, metonitazene, etodesnitazene, and metodesnitazene, respectively. The main transformations were N-deethylation at the N,N-diethylethanamine side chain, O-dealkylation, and further O-glucuronidation. In vitro and autopsy results were consistent, demonstrating the efficacy of the 10-donor-pooled human hepatocyte model to predict human metabolism. We suggest the parent and the corresponding O-dealkyl- and N-deethyl-O-dealkyl metabolites as biomarkers of exposure in urine after glucuronide hydrolysis, and the corresponding N-deethyl metabolite as additional biomarker in blood.

Repository Staff Only: item control page